An East Village apartment tower built by Father Joe’s Villages in partnership with Chelsea Investment Corp. and a Southcrest apartment project by Community Housing Works received Ruby Awards from the San Diego Housing Federation as construction projects of the year.
Those receiving Ruby Awards “have helped thousands find a home,” said Stephen Russell, president and CEO of the Housing Federation.
Saint Teresa of Calcutta by Father Joe’s and Chelsea received the award for a construction project with more than 100 apartments and Keller Court Apartments by Community Housing Works was picked as the top project with fewer than 100 apartments.
Russell said that Genesis Apartments in El Cajon, a cottage complex of eight apartments, also received an award for renovation projects that provide affordable housing.
Presented by the San Diego Housing Federation, the awards go to projects, people and organizations that promote affordable housing for those who are homeless or in danger of becoming homeless.
“Inspired by the film classic, the Wizard of Oz, our Ruby awards embody those glittering shoes that Dorothy wore that would with just a few clicks of her heels would return her to the home she loved,” Russell said. “If it were only that easy.”
Named for Mother Teresa, St. Teresa of Calcutta with 407 apartments has done more than any other single project in San Diego County to provide housing to homeless or recently homeless individuals, veterans and families, Russell said.
“That’s 400 households that are off the streets of San Diego. We need to do that 20 times over,” Russell said. “It really took an amazing advance in housing folks.”
Keeler Court with 71 apartments was a more modest project but “is probably more typical of what more (affordable housing) buildings are going to look like,” Russell said.
With land scarce, future affordable housing projects will likely be infill projects of 100 apartments or fewer in older neighborhoods, Russell said.
Keeler Court stood out because of “the quality of design and its thoughtfulness,” Russell said. “It includes resident service spaces and a layout that really tries to create a community and sense of space.”
Genesis Apartments was a renovation project to provide housing for homeless veterans honored in part for showing how affordable housing projects can blend into the neighborhoods around them.
“It’s small, it fits into the community without calling attention to itself,” Russell said.
Along with honoring individuals and affordable housing projects, the Ruby awards are meant to give encouragement to those working to provide affordable housing at a time when the task can seem insurmountable, Russell said.
The Regional Task Force on Homelessness reported that 8,427 people were found in its 2022 People in Time Count – a 10% increase since the last count was taken two years ago.
Of those, 4,106 were sleeping on the streets and 4,321 were in shelters.
“It feels sometimes like a losing battle,” Russell said, but to those who no longer have to sleep on the street, “it has impact. To each of those individuals, this is the world.”
Among others receiving Ruby awards was Tom Scott, former executive director of the Housing Federation who retired in 2010. He received the Housing Champion Award.
The federation said that Scott “is well-known in the word of affordable housing for his efforts in faithfully serving families and community members in San Diego for over 30 years. After retiring, he formed the Emergency Medical Services Museum.
Amy Denhart, director of Funders Together to End Homelessness, received the Rich Jaurez Award, named after the co-founder of the Housing Federation.
The federation said that Denhart “embodies the spirit of this award” with her persistence and dedication.
San Diego Housing Federation
Headquarters: North Park
CEO/President: Stephen Russell
Business: Nonprofit advocacy group for affordable housing
Annual revenue: $1.2 million
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 619-239-6693
Notable: The federation was originally known as the Nonprofit Federation for Housing and Community Development. In 2001 the name was changed to San Diego Housing Federation to better reflect the growing diversity of its membership.